***LONG POST ALERT***
One Year Anniversary Vacation
We chose to travel to the Florida keys to celebrate our year. We ended up choosing the keys to avoid Zika since we are trying to get pregnant. We initially had all kinds of plans to go to Cabo, Antigua, etc. but heard lots about the Keys so we decided to play it safe and see what the Keys had to offer.
Destination: Key Largo (Florida Keys)
Hotel: Playa Largo Resort (gorgeous….large room!)
Temperature: Hot, Humid, Sticky!!!!!!
Things to keep in mind: Miami = 1 hour from our hotel, Key West = 2 hours, and the amount of conch fritters we ate…
Day #1 (Sunday, July 1st) – We arrived to Key West Airport (EYW) around 2pm. Why Key West instead of Miami airport since it’s closer to our hotel you ask? Because I goofed and didn’t do all my homework on the closest airport and told the lady to make our reservations for the closest airport to our resort. Clearly she thought it was Key West as well….lesson learned. Anyways, it worked out because we were able to see the entire Florida Keys which even some of the locals haven’t taken advantage of.
Sol By the Sea for a late lunch and dessert later that night. This place was beautiful and right on the water. What we didn’t pay attention to was the prices. We definitely didn’t plan on having a $121 lunch. We started with the Clam and Conch Chowder soup. I don’t know how I managed to eat soup as hot as it was, but it was tasty. For our main dishes, Brandon got the Jerk Shrimp Kabobs and I got the Black Grouper in a Coconut Curry. The food was very pleasing to our palettes.
Why did we come back for dessert if it was so pricey? Because after renting a car and driving two hours from the airport to our resort, we didn’t want to leave the grounds. We needed to relax to make sure were at 100% to venture out the next day.
Brandon indulged in the Turtle Cheesecake while I had the Double Chocolate Bread Pudding for dessert. There were no regrets!
Day #2 (Monday, July 2nd) – The morning started with the breakfast buffet at La Marea. After eating here, we determined the resort restaurants were pricier than we cared for so we found food outside the resort for the rest or our trip. Next up…a day trip to Miami. Though we’ve been before, neither of us knew the history nor had been to some of the major attractions. We Toured the city by doing the Hop on Hop off tour. After using this company to tour New York, we were sold on this being one of the best ways to cover a lot of ground for a good price without having to rush. We parked at Biscayne Avenue and caught a yacht to start the first part of our tour. Some of our favorites stops on the tour included the boat ride through Millionaire’s Row (Star Island), Coconut Grove, Little Havana, and the Art District (Wynwood Walls). Besides it being scorching hot and having to duck every so often to dodge the tree branches (sometimes without warning) since we were on the top deck of the bus, it was wonderful being able to see things from above. Our day ended with dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. No clue why I didn’t get many pictures of this place, but the food was good.
I’ve never seen anything like these trees…well not in person anyways. Their called a Banyan Trees.
American Airlines Arena – Home of the Miami Heat
Day #3 (Tuesday, July 3rd) – Breakfast at the Key Largo Conch House then onto the air boat tour through the Everglades! We were both excited about this experience. The tour company we chose was called Coopertown The Original Air Boat Tour. It rained the entire drive to the tour…..then cleared up like it never happened. That’s Florida for ya! Not only did they have alligators, but turtles and snakes as well. Before the tour started they teach you a bit about the animals and let you pet a few too. I was taking a picture of what I thought was a fake alligator on the way in only to learn it was real. I mean it looked way to big to be real. The chill that went through my body when I realized it was real was uncontrollable! To make matters even more nerve wrecking for me is that I was standing in between two of them on a very narrow pathway… I literally almost shed my skin. I calmly walked away as the others made the same discovery. The airboat tour was such a fun adventure. I will admit, it was a little scary being out in such open waters with those alligators. Brandon wouldn’t let me go to close to the sides of the boat but knew I wanted to be on the outside to get some great pics. You couldn’t see the alligators until our guide called them and they decided to show themselves so they could be lurking anywhere. The guide was able to get two of them to pop their heads above water.
This place has great history and peacocks were literally everywhere! You could hear that awful noise they make from all over. They were on the roof, sitting on porches, under bushes, next to cars, walking in the streets, etc. One of the locals mentioned they weren’t aggressive, but they tear up your house. Sounds aggressive to me but ok. I’ve never seen a baby peacock before and had the pleasure of photographing an entire peacock family. Lunch was in Little Havana. So much culture on this strip….the food was yum! We visited some family after lunch. Brandon has lots of family in Miami. They were so happy we stopped by and it was great seeing them. Dinner was at The Fish House. Pretty highly rated by the locals and boy was it packed. The service was still amazing….they have got to share their secret on the service skills.
Day #4 (Wednesday, July 4th) – We set this day aside for Key West which keep in mind is a two hour drive from our resort. To make the most of our time we grabbed breakfast from Starbucks and kept it movin. Once we arrived we were eager to learn what they Key West was all about. What better place to start than Duval Street. Known to be the liveliest spot in the Keys! About 14 blocks of shops, restaurants, and all kinds of neat little places. We had no idea where to start or where to go so we signed up for the Trolly Tour….similar to the hop on hop off bus. We were kind of strapped for time because we didn’t want to get caught in holiday traffic to catch the fireworks back in Key Largo so we chose our top destinations on the tour and sat back and enjoyed the ride. Our stops included:
Stop#1 – Mallory Square
Stop #3 – Rum Distillery…we enjoyed some free rum and a free tour of the distillery. I highly recommend this. We both enjoyed it more than we thought we would. Lunch was at this spot on the water called Conch Republic Seafood Company.
Stop#11 – Southern Most Point
I enjoyed the uniqueness and character of Key West. Not many major store chains, lots of quaint little shops. They fight to keep it that way. I respect that…
The traffic was going into Key West as we made our way back with no problems. Word around town was one of the best spots to watch the fireworks was a restaurant called Sun Downers…about 10 minutes from our resort and it was on the water. They even put out extra chairs for the celebration. Fireworks are always a great ending to a long day. You guys know how I love my fireworks!
NOTE: When we return to the Keys, we will stay in Key West!
Sundowners for dinner and fireworks show
Day #4 (Thursday, July 5th) – Breakfast at the Waffle House before heading to South Beach for the day! It wasn’t our favorite choice. They had the thickest waffle batter we had ever seen. They had to scrape it out with a spoon! It didn’t pour out when they tipped the bowl…..lets not even talk about the chunky grits. I’m not knocking them as I’ve had my share that were quite tasty, but these didn’t do it for me.
Once we reached the beach, life was good! Believe it or not, this was the first day we set foot on a beach. We didn’t realized we planned so much running around. You would think with the level of heat they were having it would remind us to go to the beach!
Due to a recent storms in the area, the water was filled with seaweed! I mean filled to the point you had to get past it to swim. It was brownish/orange in color and was somewhat rough. It felt gross wrapped around my ankles. I tried…it was gross…I went and sat down. I kept trying because so many people were out there enjoying themselves but I just couldn’t do it. It did appear to be mostly men who made it out while the women stood on the shore frowning at the site of the amount of seaweed. Either way, we made the most of our beach time. Of course after laying out for some hours we needed to replenish so we hit the strip. I don’t know if our food was that good or if we were just that hungry!
Once back to the resort, we took some time to enjoy the beach on the resort grounds. The waters were very calm and still. It was very peaceful…perfect way to end out day.
The Beach at our resort…
Snappers – This unique restaurant on the water was torn down by hurricane so as of today, it’s still under construction. They take you around back to be seated on the water. Lots of construction going on here, but the outdoor space they do have is nice! We didn’t end up staying long thanks to the large black roach who thought we invited him to dinner. This was by no fault of the restaurant. It was night time, this place is on the water and under construction so it was expected, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. If you know me, you know I HATE BUGS!!!!!!!!!!! I asked to be moved to another table only to be paranoid for the rest of our time there. I couldn’t get any pictures of the food because I was to busy checking to see if he decided to follow us to the new table and bring his friends and family along with him. The food, ambience, and service was great, but it was time to go. My feet stayed completely on Brandon the remainder of the time until we left. We both said we would return….hopefully the roach won’t have the same idea. Lol!
Day #6 (Friday, July 6th) – This day is always a day too soon….the day we had to pack up and drive two hours back to the airport and head on home. The Florida Keys were good to us and offered plenty of relaxation, scenery, character, and the service is every single restaurant was spectacular! Until we return….thanks for the good times!